As people walk past the spacious outdoor patio into Hodsons Bar & Grill, they might spy diners devouring sushi rolls, brick-oven pizza, and steaks beneath white canvas umbrellas or sipping brews around the fire pit on gray wicker patio sofas with sleek white cushions. Inside, diners perch on leather chairs and slide into booths beneath an abstract glass chandelier that resembles a flaming sun. The private dining room seats guests beside a floor-to-ceiling wine rack built into the wall, and the glass doors, marked by the face imprints of those who weren’t invited in, can be shut for total privacy.
The upscale, contemporary decor reflects Hodsons’ upscale, contemporary American dishes, such as portobello-and-fig pizza, baked dungeness-crab dip, and Asian nachos with mango, avocado, and chilled chicken. Burgers hoist Colorado Angus beef and buffalo, handcut fillets of Scottish salmon await the grill’s flame licks, and three-cheese macaroni teems with chunks of Maine lobster and applewood bacon.
Signature drinks—including blueberry basil-tinis with Little Black Dress vodka and muddled basil and blueberries—and the food pair better than Elvis and sequins. Servers also pour glasses of wine and tap brews such as Left Hand Sawtooth ale and Angry Orchard cider.
When most people think of Chicago-style pizza, they probably imagine a dense, deep-dish pie weighed down by an inches-thick layer of cheese. But the chefs at Nicolo's Pizza point to a different definition offered up by famed Chicago film critic Roger Ebert. In an interview with Vanity Fair , Ebert estimated that as much as 85 percent of Chicago's pizza is built upon a thin crust, and that what really sets the city's pies apart is the homemade sauces and crusts cooked up by Chicago's abundant Italian population.
That's exactly the type of Chicago-style pizza that Nicolo's has been dishing up for more than 30 years, using recipes born generations ago in Italy. Each thin or hand-rolled crust is made fresh every day, topped with a choice of sauce such as traditional red, alfredo, or garlicky extra virgin olive oil, then baked in an authentic stone-bottom oven. Patrons can choose their own ingredients––which range from artichoke hearts to green chilies––or choose one of the shop's specialties such as Buffalo Pie, a ranch-based pizza topped with chicken, celery, carrots, and mozzarella, or the Besto Pesto with Chicken, featuring chicken, black olives, artichoke hearts, and provolone cheese with a pesto sauce. Beyond the pizza pan, chefs painstakingly assemble layers of fresh noodles, ricotta, and sauce into classic meaty or vegetarian lasagna and slather chicken wings in a variety of sauces, including pomegranate chipotle and thai peanut.
Drawing from a supply of imported Greek ingredients and familiar Old-World recipes, Bucci's Greek & Italian Specialties' chefs forge a menu of homey Mediterranean cuisine that calls to mind visions of the old world’s tastiest traditions. Homemade tzatziki sauce crowns gyros stuffed with roasted beef and lamb or baked chicken, and the spanakopita's carefully assembled layers of spinach, feta, and phyllo pastry bake to a perfectly golden brown. These ingredients even influence the Italian specialties, creating pizzas with distinctive toppings of spinach, black olives, and feta or gyro meat, tomatoes, and onions. However, entrees such as the spicy sausage ravioli and the baked ziti maintain their hearty Italian roots by following the time-honored recipes first published in the Aeneid's appendices.
A trim of decorative vines circles the dining area, alluding to the trellises of Greek and Italian vineyards, and adding a verdant splash of color to the cherry-red walls and their framed artwork. A faux-stone archway separates the front and back halves of the room, and nearby potted plants add even more greenery to the space.
Voted the Best Burger of 2012 by Westword, Juicy Burgers & Dogs doesn’t skimp on quality, using never-frozen meat, fresh veggies, and artisanal buns in its delectable offerings. Baked with organic rye flour, white and pumpernickel buns surround preservative- and filler-free patties with the perfect amount of open-flame char and mouthwatering juiciness. Guests can pick 100% fresh ground beef, Colorado ground lamb, or Red Bird Farms chicken breasts to fill the buns, adorned with spreadable sharp cheddar cheese or slices of Tillamook cheddar, as well as slabs of fresh veggies. Guests can also sink teeth into a juicy dog, choosing from a classic Vienna all-beef hot dog, char-grilled Kobe jumbo dog, or Sheboygan-style wisconsin beer brat. Main courses are accompanied by french fries, cut throughout the day from kennebec potatoes and fried in pure canola oil, and Häagen Dazs milk shakes, made solely from the milk of Danish-speaking cows.
In the midst of bright oranges and purple and a mural of the Denver skyline, an insignia of five stars hangs displayed on Five Star Burgers' walls. Though the eatery's recipes have spread to Missouri and Colorado, they each draw from the southwestern flavors of the restaurant's hometown of Taos, New Mexico. At the Denver locations, chefs build burgers and sandwiches using local Durham Ranch bison, local chickens, and natural steroid- and antibiotic-free beef from Harris Ranch when possible. They offset meaty offerings with vegetarian salads, veggie burgers, and portobello sandwiches. At a full bar, bartenders stir specialty cocktails or pour pint glasses of local craft beer. The restaurant staff's commitment to sustainable practices also extends to packaging and utensils: the carryout packages are made from recycled biodegradable paper, and the drinking cups are fashioned from recycled plastic by elves recycled from Christmas.
Bombay Bowl's owner, Amar, says he "grew up in an East Indian kitchen," where he attentively learned his family's generations-old knowledge of the region's aromatic and salutary spices. Although his menu features the familiar combinations of turmeric, ginger, and coriander, he set out to infuse his Indian cuisine with a home-style casual, health-conscious environment. The cooks eschew trans fats and artificial flavorings, seeking out all-natural beef and chicken, chopping vibrant vegetables, and baking fresh naan in their kitchen instead. With these ingredients, diners can choose a bowl of long-grain basmati rice topped with meaty or vegetarian proteins, sauces, and chutneys. The chefs also whip up gluten-free and vegan options, accommodating virtually any diet.